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146 - Paralytics and Publicans

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin
The Truth Network Radio
May 13, 2023 1:00 pm

146 - Paralytics and Publicans

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin

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May 13, 2023 1:00 pm

Episode 146 - Paralytics and Publicans (13 May 2023) by A Production of Main Street Church of Brigham City

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You pick up your Bible and wonder, is there more here than meets the eye?

Is there anything here for me? I mean, it's just words printed on paper, right? Well, it may look like just print on a page, but it's more than ink. Join us for the next half hour as we explore God's Word together, as we learn how to explore it on our own, as we ask God to meet us there in its pages.

Welcome to More Than Ink. Hey, today we're going to see four guys who take their good buddy who cannot walk and drop him down in front of Jesus. And Jesus heals him, right? Well, not at first. In fact, he does something much, much more remarkable. Oh, wait a minute. What could be more remarkable than healing a paralytic?

Well, I think we need to read the passage and find out. Today, on More Than Ink. Well, yes siree, this is More Than Ink. I'm Jim. And I'm Dorothy.

And we're glad you're joining us again. We are right in the middle of Matthew and discovering our way through what is put there. Matthew, one of the apostles that walked with Jesus.

And he'll actually play a starring role today. That's in today's passage. In today's passage. He writes about himself, but he doesn't say so. But we know it's him.

Anyway, this is me. Yeah, that's right. And if you don't know anything about Matthew's background, you might be surprised where he comes from and what he used to do for a living.

And if you don't know that, you'll find out today. So if you want to follow with us, we're in chapter nine of Matthew. And we've come through the whole Sermon on the Mount. Jesus has started doing ministry in Galilee, starting in chapter eight. We got through chapter eight and those things. And we're still doing ministry, starting into chapter nine this time. And we've seen a handful of miracles, right? We've seen a leper cleansed, and we've seen a whole herd of pigs sent down the Galilee to the mountain.

That was exciting. And remember, before we come into this passage, remember that Jesus had gone over to the east side of the Sea of Galilee. And he had done ministry among this mixed culture over there of mostly Gentiles.

Mostly Gentiles, yeah, yeah. On the east side of the Sea of Galilee, came across those guys with the legion of demons. And he left that one terribly oppressed, demon-oppressed man who he healed, left him behind and said, now stay behind and tell people what God has done for you. And to this day, we don't have any biblical account of how the gospel spread through him, but that's why Jesus had him stay on that side of the lake, to spread the word. And if you remember, on the way over there, Jesus had calmed the storm.

Right, oh yeah, right. So the disciples had wound up by asking, who is this man that even the weather listens to him? Well, as we continue in chapter nine, a lot of people are going to be asking themselves, who is this guy? So we jump in a boat and we cross over from the east side of the lake to the west side of the lake, and we pick up the narrative in the beginning of chapter nine, verse one.

Here we go. And getting into a boat, he crossed over and came to his own city. So that's back to Capernaum, where he had come from. And behold, some people were brought to him a paralytic lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, take heart, my son, your sins are forgiven. And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, this man is blaspheming. But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier to say, your sins are forgiven, or to say, rise and walk?

But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. He then said to the paralytic, rise, pick up your bed and go home. And he rose and went home. When the crowd saw it, they were afraid and they glorified God who had given such authority to men. Wow, very famous passage. What's left out in this account as opposed to Mark and Luke is the fact that this paralytic came in through the ceiling. That's right, that his friends had climbed up on the ceiling and on the roof and lifted off the tiles so they could lower him. They were absolutely desperate, they were convinced that they could bring him down in front of Jesus. And the house was full of people, they couldn't get in, wasn't going to stop them, they dug through the roof and lowered him down. I think it's Luke's gospel, it says that they lowered him right in front of Jesus.

That's Luke 5, yeah, exactly. So here's this paralytic, he's lying on a bed and an interesting comment, when Jesus saw his faith or their faith? He saw the faith of his friends. The faith of his friends. Then he said to the paralytic, again, something the friends didn't expect to hear, they expected Jesus to say, take heart, you're healed, but he says, take heart my son, your sins are forgiven.

Your sins are forgiven. He's still laying paralyzed on his mat. So he couldn't have done anything, right? Couldn't have.

What could he have done? That's right. And so, you know, so to the Pharisees that are standing around, the scribes and Pharisees, this is a very audacious statement.

I mean, because who, who does that? Who can forgive sin? And well, you know, clearly this passage is about authority. That's right. The guy is healed.

Yes. But, but Matthew's conclusion is these people were amazed because God had given such authority to a human being who could say, your sins are forgiven and then validate it by this paralytic guy just getting up and walking away. That's what makes the sequence of the story so engaging because he forgives this guy's sins first and then the religious officials say, no, no, no, no, no, no.

You can't do that. That's like, that's like blasphemy. You're talking like you're God.

So people, you know, people, critics of the Bible who say, Jesus never really claimed to be God. Well, he was sure talking like God right here. And doing stuff only God could do. Right. I mean, he's forgiving sins.

Who can do that? And the Pharisees got it. Okay, well he's doing things that had never been done before in human recollection, at least in Jewish history, this, this incident is forgiving sin, but he had healed a leper. He had healed at a distance without a touch, right?

The centurions servant. He was casting out demons, not one at a time, but in crowds, he had calmed the storm. And remember in the, in the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount, the people were amazed at his teaching because he was teaching with his own authority. I say to you, I say to you. He didn't quote.

I, you know, I think this passage really, Matthew is driving home the authority, the messianic authority, God's sent one. Yeah. Oh, speaking. Yeah, absolutely.

Absolutely. And so when the, when the scribes and the Pharisees resist this guy saying he could forgive sins, which is invisible in a sense, but clearly God clearly blasphemous. And what they're saying is that only God can say this and do this. And so Jesus, knowing their thought says, okay, well, here you go.

Here you go. Yeah. What do you say?

We actually do some healing. So it is an implicit statement. I am. Absolutely.

Absolutely. And it's, it's interesting. They're doubting about his statement of being God. Why do you think evil in your hearts is what he's saying. It's an evil thing to challenge the actual character and nature of who Jesus is.

Well they were accusing him of blasphemy when they themselves were guilty of it. Isn't that fascinating? We're going to see that a couple of times. It'll come back.

It'll come back. But I just want to point out and keep track of this on a list somewhere. Jesus is making, just like you said, some very bold statements, both in what he does and what he says, that he is indeed God himself. Jesus is God in the flesh himself. You know, I just thought of another authority statement that we've seen in Matthew and that is when Matthew tells us about the temptations in the wilderness, Jesus says to Satan, just be gone. Be gone. We are done here.

And that's the same thing he says to the demons all along. Just be gone. Yeah. Go away. Go away.

Go away. So what do you make at the end of this passage? You know, rise, rise, pick up your bed, go home. He rose, he went home and then the crowd's reaction is interesting. The crowd saw it and they were afraid. Well they were amazed, they were awed, they were deeply stirred, maybe with a proper fear. Yeah, because it says they were both afraid and glorified God.

So they just realized they had seen proof of something quite authoritative from a divine perspective and they didn't know how to handle it but they did know this was all about God. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, this guy's great. Well, you want to move on? We have to.

There's so much more we can say about each of these things but we really want to, we're just doing a flyover. Oh, can I quote one thing because I think this is interesting. Psalm 103 verses one through three, the Psalm of David, bless the Lord O my soul and forget none of his benefits. And listen to what he's, he's talking about God now, talking about God. Listen, verse three, who forgives all your iniquity and who heals all your diseases.

Boom, there it is right here. That's an interesting order there. It is.

To forgive first and heal second. It is. I know.

It's like he's just living out Psalm 103. Okay, I just had to stick that in before we go on. Oh, I hadn't thought about that. That's wonderful. Yeah, yeah. Well, let's get to the star author of this book.

Okay. Matthew. So we're pressing on to verse nine.

And Jesus passed on from there and he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth and he said to him, follow me, and he rose and followed him. Now, can we stop there for just a second? We should, that's very odd.

Because we think that this was a first encounter, but it probably wasn't. Yeah. Right?

It's unlikely. We're in the neighborhood where Jesus had been living for some time. Right. Everybody knew the guy who sat at the tax booth, right?

They probably had had some conversation and Jesus knew that Matthew was paying attention, right? Yeah. And tax collectors are prominent in the little villages. Everybody had to deal with them. Right.

So, you know, there's got to be more going on behind the scenes. It's just not documented. They were also despised. They were despised. Now, if you don't know what tax collectors did, they were basically, they worked for the Roman government. And so Rome wanted to take taxes from the people that they occupied, militarily. You don't get many great taxes if you use soldiers to do that. So they would hire locals and say, look, if you collect the taxes for Rome, you can charge whatever you want. You can add a personal surcharge. That's right.

Just make sure we get what we want and we need this much and you can charge anything past that. And so the tax collectors not only were, I don't know, turncoats against the local people, I guess their friends and family lived in those villages. But they also had an inside line on who had made more money or less money because they knew about crops and stuff like that, who sold animals. So they knew all this stuff. They were perfectly situated. So they were despised. They had to be protected by Roman soldiers. But they got wealthy. They got wealthy at the expense of the friends and the family they've lived with their entire lives.

These people were nasty. So Jesus just walks up to his tax booth, which is the public place where he would call people in to pay their taxes, just walks up there and says to him, follow me. And boom, he rises and follows. It kind of implies the time has come, right? Because Jesus is becoming a recognized rabbi and he has called a handful of followers. We've got Peter, James, John, and Andrew, who are with him to know for sure at this point. Oh, and I think Nathaniel too.

We've already seen Nathaniel come. Perhaps, yeah. So that's from one of the other Gospels. So when he invites Matthew, come follow me, there's some sort of relationship that preceded that. It had to be. It didn't just come out of the book.

It had to be. We just don't have it written down. Another thing to point out, quite a difference between a tax collector who leaves his tax booth. This is a one-way trip. I mean, there's no way he's going to come back and do this ever again because he's actually turning his back on Rome as well. The fishermen, like the four guys who were fishermen, they could turn around next week and say, well, we don't want to follow Jesus anymore. We'll just go back fishing. And after the resurrection, they did.

And they sort of do. But Matthew realized this is a one-way trip. He's leaving behind not only what he's doing here, he puts himself in bad state with Rome, in fact. And also, he's leaving behind a lot of money, wealth. And that's interesting because that kind of leads us into the next part of the story, which is the next scene opens at a dinner table at a dinner party. I think maybe Matthew has gathered all his friends to explain himself.

Well, it's very likely because the story of Zacchaeus, who was also a tax collector, he does the same thing. He invites, well, Jesus invites himself to his house. So we think this is Matthew holding a big party. So verse 10. He's introducing Jesus to his friends. Yeah. So let me read it for us.

Okay. Verse 10. So as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners? But when he heard it, he said, those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, and he quotes, I desire mercy and not sacrifice for I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.

You know, I love that. This is not the only time he's going to quote this verse from Hosea. Right. And it's fascinating that he quotes from Hosea in the first place because the whole story of Hosea is a picture of unfaithful Israel and God's faithfulness to her as his people. Yeah. So, you know, did you look up this whole verse that he quotes because he only quotes part of it. Yeah.

Well, Hosea 6-6. Right. For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. Ah, the knowledge of God. Like if you really knew God, because isn't that what Jesus says now?

Go and learn what this means because you don't get it. You don't understand what it means to know God, which is an intimate relational kind of understanding. God's heart is mercy, is loving kindness, is tenderness toward those who are desperately sick with sin.

Yeah. Key part of God's nature is mercy. Is mercy. Well, and the interesting thing is when he says, you know, he quotes Hosea, I desire mercy not sacrifice. Well, David had said the same thing in Psalm 51, Lord, if you desired sacrifice, I would give it.

I would have done it. Right. Right. But what you want is a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart of God.

Right. And a broken and tender toward God. So you know, Jesus is standing in line with all of the Old Testament prophets.

Actually you know what? Micah said the same thing. You know what God requires of you, right? Micah 6.8.

6.8. To do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God. Yeah. It's about relationship. Mercy is all about how you react to someone who does evil or does you dirt. I mean your enemy basically. And if they'd been listening during the Sermon on the Mount, they would have known that Jesus says you have to love your enemies, not hate them, which includes mercy and grace. Mercy is about alleviating the consequence, the painful consequences of sin, which is why Jesus says, you know, hey, I'm here with the people who know they're sick.

They are sick in their sin and they know it, and I'm here to bring them healing. Yeah. I think that's what's so remarkable about what Jesus does is because this is not the first time that he relates with people who are looked down upon by the very righteous Pharisees. He takes heat from the religious authorities.

And he takes heat. Yeah. But this is, you could almost say this is Jesus' specialty when it comes to dealing with people. These are the kinds of people he came for. These are my people. These are my people.

Yeah. To quote a local phrase. So yeah, that's what's really great because this last line, I came not to call the righteous but sinners. Now he's not, when he says call the righteous, he doesn't mean actually truly righteous. He means people who think they're righteous, self-righteous, and that's the description of the Pharisees. Trusting in their own righteousness. That's right. And because of their own righteousness, they see themselves as an elite above the dirty people around. Better than.

And there can't be a more dirty Jew than a tax collector who's a Jew. And that's Matthew right here. So clearly they're looking down on the fact that Jesus is hobnobbing with these people.

Actually going to a dinner party. Well they weren't keeping their distance though. I mean they were close enough to see what was going on. That's pretty interesting.

They were keeping a close eye on him. So it makes me wonder whether they're jealous that they weren't invited to the party. It's probably really good food, good wine. We see in other parts of the gospel, Jesus is often at dinner with someone and the scribes, the Pharisees are there observing. And in some cases they're actually guests.

But it's interesting. He coming as God sent one, makes sure he is constantly in the face of those who should have been the ones to recognize him. They had the messianic prophecies and they should have been able to do that. But you know at the time when Jesus comes to Israel during this time, just like at the time of Hosea, everything is upside down in terms of Israel's relationship with God.

And I looked at another place in Hosea, in Hosea 4.1. He says basically then as Jesus is saying here now, there is no faithfulness or steadfast love and there is no knowledge of God in the land. So this is where we're at. From this point on in the story as Jesus does ministry, he's going to catch a lot of flack from people. I mean he's already been called out for blasphemy. And then they had to shut their lips because the guy got healed. So it'll continue on.

He's going to rack up a lot of friction as time goes on and this is not the only place. And because God himself in the flesh, Jesus, is actually being merciful to the ones he loves. And I know when you talk about knowing God, I just remembered back in the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus tells that, talks about not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, we'll get in. He says, but depart from me, I never knew you. So there's knowing God, being engaged in a life giving intimate relationship with God is what God is after for us. Not adherence to the law, not doing everything ceremonially correct, even though he prescribed those things. But what he's after is relationship.

He's after our hearts. And there's the opening words in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, blesses are the poor in spirit. And when you look at what he says here in verse 12, he says those who are well have no need of a physician. They're not yet poor in spirit. They don't realize that from every respect there is zero. They don't recognize their poverty.

They think they're hot stuff. And so he says, those who are well, those who think they're well, won't have a need for a physician. Those who think that they're righteous won't have a need for a savior. It doesn't mean they're not sick. That's exactly right.

It doesn't mean they just don't recognize it. That's right. So there really is a, the core issue here is repentance. Repentance starts with you understanding where you're at in terms of sin. So Matthew has repented.

He has turned and gone another direction in life. And he is introducing Jesus to all his friends and introducing all his friends to Jesus. Or maybe they have known each other, but here's this event. Well, let's look at the last event here for the day in verse 14.

And maybe this happens actually as part of this scene. And then the disciples of John came to him saying, why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast? And Jesus said to them, can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?

The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment for the patch tears away from the garment and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wine skins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed, but the new wine is put into fresh wine skins. And so both are preserved. Yeah, interesting. And those last metaphors, he's talking about the fact that something radically has shifted, something very new, new has come.

And it's something that not only the Pharisees escapes their notice, but it seems to be escaping the notice of John as well. So in these wonderful metaphors, you know, you don't put new skin and old wine skins. There's an incompatibility here. New wine. Right. New wine and old wine skins.

It doesn't work. We don't understand that because we don't store wine skins, but evidently it won't work. But we do know if you take a piece of unshrunk cloth, stitch it onto a shrunk piece of cloth, it's going to tear away. Well, look at the contrasts, right? The contrast is between something old and something new.

Old and new. In the case of the wine skins, that thing that you're putting in it is growing, expanding, fermenting and an old, brittle, worn out wine skin cannot tolerate that. Yes.

It needs to be a soft, supple, new wine skin. Yeah. So there's a fundamental incompatibility. Right. What John's disciples have in common with the Pharisees is they're all looking forward to the coming of the Messiah. And what Jesus says is, well, hey, the Messiah is here. So boom, something really radically new has shifted.

Yeah. Something greater is here. So the funny thing is I was looking at this when I was looking at the Hosea verse before I desire compassion and sacrifice, Matthew calls our attention to that verse again in chapter 12.

We'll get to it in a couple of weeks. Oh, it's coming, yeah. But it's right in conjunction where Jesus is saying, you know what?

Something greater than the temple is here. Yes. Yes. Right?

So in these two metaphors, he's contrasting something old and worn out or done with. Right. Right.

With something brand new and different. Yeah. Yeah. And I would emphasize too, John's disciples weren't wrong.

No. And in a sense, the Pharisees looking forward to the Messiah weren't wrong. It's just that that whole era preceding the coming of the Messiah, Jesus, was an era of leaning forward and waiting for the Messiah to show up. That's actually a very valid thing. But when the Messiah comes, that mode of living is obsolete the instant the Messiah comes. So it's not a right and wrong thing.

It's that was appropriate for then, this is appropriate for now. Yeah. And that's how the new covenant is new. Well, and the fact that he uses the imagery of the bridegroom to speak about himself. Well, what is a bridegroom about to do?

He's about to enter, bring in a whole new way of life. Yes. He's about to be joined with the woman that he will do the rest of his life with. Yeah.

Right? And so that is a beautiful picture. Jesus says, hey, the bridegroom is here. The wedding is about to happen. From now on, relationship will be different. It just will be different. Just like in a wedding, life is different before and it's different after.

So it's not a right and wrong in that sense. I might also point out too, there's a lot of debate in Christian circles about whether we should fast or not fast and stuff like that. It is interesting at the end of verse 15 that Jesus says, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast. And we are at this time in this period right now where the bridegroom has been taken away and then he'll come back to greet us. So is fasting fit for today?

Well, according to verse 15, yeah, actually, because in a sense, we mourn his absence and we wait for his return again the second time. Boy, that's a subject for another whole day. I know, you could go on a long day.

You could go on a long time. But a lot of people read this passage and say, see, fasting is just obsolete. And you go, no, no, it's not.

It's not obsolete. There's an assumption, right? Even back in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said now, when you fast. When you fast. He didn't say if you fast. That's right. He said when you fast. That's right.

But we're in this period where he's gone to heaven and soon he'll return a second time. And during this period, it's fitting to fast. Absolutely. Yeah. So I'll point out something else, too, about this.

We talked about incompatibility. What Jesus is doing here when he's saying something new has come is he's not reforming the old system. No.

No. And he's also not restoring something from the old system. So what he's doing is he's replacing the old system because he has come. So you have to understand, any time someone makes an appeal to say, well, I want to reform the system or I want to restore what's been lost, no, actually, at this point, starting with the ministry of Jesus, it's been replaced by his presence.

I just wanted to point that out. Well, no, I think that's really important because something greater is here. Something new is here.

Hebrews 8 13 says a new covenant, right? He's made the first obsolete. Whatever's become obsolete is growing old and ready to disappear. Ready to disappear.

Right? So we'll be talking about the new covenant a lot. God had promised, I'm making a new arrangement with you.

You're going to know me because I'm going to forgive your sin and I'll put my spirit within you and change your heart. Yeah. Yeah. So I think that's here, especially in this picture of the new wine in the wine skin.

It's poking out all over the place. Because the contrast between these two pictures is an external one and an internal one, right? So oh, camp on these pictures. You can't have the new covenant occupy inside of the old covenant. It's one stops, the other starts. And Jesus caps off his ministry there in the Lord's Supper in that upper room. Right.

And says, this blood is the new covenant, my covenant, the new covenant in my blood. So there it is, caps it off and ties it up for us. So that's exactly where we're going. We opened a really big box. We'll have to come back to it another time.

Lots of great stuff. Well, we're going to come back next time and look at the second half of chapter nine. And we're gonna, excuse me, we're going to see some more fascinating interactions, miraculous interactions, that's still going to get Jesus in hot water, because they just don't understand who this guy is. So anyway, come back with us next time on More Than Ink. I'm Jim.

And I'm Dorothy. We'll see you next time. Bye. Bye. There are many more episodes of this broadcast to be found at our website, And while you're there, take a moment to drop us a note. Remember, the Bible is God's love letter to you.

Pick it up and read it for yourself, and you will discover that the words printed there are indeed more than ink. That's pretty good. Okay. We're moving along? Oh, yeah. This has been a production of Main Street Church of rhythm city.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-13 14:17:17 / 2023-05-13 14:30:02 / 13

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